October 2008

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Business Briefs

St. Clair Ethanol Plant in Sarnia, Ontario, plans to double capacity to 200 MMly.

Suncor receives boost from Canadian government



Pictured is a bank of ten-7 liter fermentors, fully automated with data logging capabilities.

In the Lab

By Jessica Ebert

PhibroChem, the New Jersey-based supplier of antimicrobials for the ethanol industry worldwide, recently opened a new laboratory in St. Paul, Minn., dedicated to expanding its customer service diagnostic work, research and development for the next generation of products for the biofuels industry.

Seeds will play a vital role in the advancement of the crops needed to produce second-generation biofuels. EPM talks to Ceres Inc., a seed plant genomics firm, about its now widely available commercial energy crop seed and the switchgrass seed it is offering for the 2009 planting season.

Students examine the many styles of top valve arrangements atop the GATX TankTrainer tank car.

Staying on Track

By Ryan C. Christiansen / Story & Photos

Transporting ethanol safely via rail begins at the ethanol plant or terminal.

Novozymes expects to hire nearly 100 employees upon completion of its new enzyme production facility in Nebraska.

If You Build it …

By Suzanne H. Schmidt

Two enzyme companies, Novozymes and Genencor, have made plans to branch out into the Midwest to better serve their ethanol producing customers in the Corn Belt.

Large rail terminals that can handle ethanol unit trains are poised to be an integral part of transporting the fuel in the future. The ability to quickly and inexpensively move ethanol long distances becomes more important as our renewable fuel consumption increases. Several companies have recognized this opportunity and are adding ethanol capacity.

Victory Energy's, left to right, Charles Swallow, Charles Lockhart and Gary Persichini man the booth at the 2008 American Coalition for Ethanol conference in Omaha, Neb.

A Taste of Victory

By Anna Austin

When John Viskup and Jim Sponder established Victory Energy Operations LLC in 1999, ambitions were high—but neither expected the company to hit the milestones it has in such a short time. In less than 10 years the company has grown from 3 to 320 employees.

Production efficiency is critical in this tough economic environment. A U.K.-based company is working toward commercial availability of its ethanol reactor tower, which uses atomized steam to release intracellular starch in the cook process to boost fermentation efficiency. EPM takes a look at this technology.

Winter barley is approaching corn's value as an ethanol feedstock thanks to variety improvements and new processing technology.

Beefing Up Barley

By Susanne Retka Schill

In the ethanol world barley may be corn's poor cousin, but research efforts have made it an attractive feedstock option in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region.

Despite record-high corn prices, most ethanol producers have managed to stretch their dollars to keep operating at or near break-even. Now that corn prices have started to come down to a more manageable level, producers' margins could start to improve.

Dairy farming has traditionally played an important role in the local economy of Snohomish County, Wash.

Powerful Relationships-It's the Talk of Tualco Valley

By Ryan C. Christiansen / Photos by Matt Hagen

In the Pacific Northwest, a cooperative effort among environmentalists, dairy farmers and local Indian tribes to produce renewable energy is proving that we can all just get along.

Seeds will play a vital role in the advancement of the crops needed to produce second-generation biofuels. Biomass Magazine talks to Ceres Inc., a seed plant genomics firm, about the switchgrass seed it is offering for the 2009 planting season.

Warner mans the TGER at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq.

Trash Tactics in Iraq

By Anna Austin

As would be expected, the 140,000 U.S. troops stationed overseas generate a lot of trash. To help bases dispose of that trash, scientists from Purdue University teamed up with the U.S. Army to develop a generator that runs on packaging and food waste and produces fuel and power.

Ransler, left, and Sinha met at the Darden School of Business and formed Husk Power Systems with another partner, Pandey, who is not pictured.

Giving Back

By Bryan Sims

Manoj Sinha's dream of providing power to areas of his native India where limited or no electricity is available has become a reality. He and his partners started Husk Power Systems to develop a process to convert rice husks into electricity to supply impoverished rural Indian villages.

The demonstration plant on the campus of UC-Davis is being used to test the anaerobic phase solids digestion technology for the conversion of everything from food processing and animal wastes to grass clippings and crop residues to a biogas.

Waste Not, Want Not

By Jessica Ebert

California researchers and technology developers are commercializing a process that treats solid organic wastes such as grass clippings, food scraps, food processing byproducts, crop residues and animal wastes, and converts the materials into biogas that can be used to generate electricity, heat and transportation fuel.

An extraordinary amount of plastic occupies landfill space worldwide. Like a time capsule this could tell future generations an awful lot about us. Work by a few creative and resourceful people may change the message we choose to leave.

Complaints from the European Biodiesel Board are the subject of a serious trade investigation underway across the pond. The Europeans claim U.S.-subsidized B99 imports are causing injury to its domestic biodiesel industry. If the allegations are found to be true, the timing-if nothing else-may be a godsend.

To draw global attention to the potential of alternative fuels, the B100-powered speedboat Earthrace conquered the world speed record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat.


Catalyzing Future Fuels

By Jerry W. Kram

Enzymes are the key to making much of biofuels production efficient and profitable, but not when it comes to biodiesel. Enzyme producer Novozymes aims to change that by creating an entirely new biodiesel production process. If successful, this process would lower biodiesel's already low carbon footprint and make it a top choice for those seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Daniel Geller, a research engineer for the Biorefining and Carbon Cycling Program at the University of Georgia, works in the lab. The university has started working with Athens Technical College in Athens, Ga., to develop a curriculum to train studen

Biodiesel on Campus

By Ryan C. Christiansen

College students are making biodiesel because they want to do something to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil and to make the planet a better place to live.

The risks associated with performing hot work in a biodiesel facility are many. Fires and explosions caused by sparks from lit torches are, unfortunately, not uncommon. Each incident has its own string of causes and effects, but every loss caused by hot work is 100 percent preventable.

Making the Best of Wastewater

By Susanne Retka Schill

Two Mississippi State University researchers are exploring the possibility of extracting oil from microorganisms fattened up in wastewater treatment facilities to produce biodiesel.


Emerging Process Optimization Opportunities for Ethanol Facilities

By Philip A. Marrone, Kenneth R. Liberty and David J.

Knocking Down the Dust

By Petru Sangeorzan

European companies that burn biomass have been managing emissions for decades. Now a common device-the electrostatic precipitator-is increasingly being used in North American biomass processing.


Determining the Ownership of Landfill Gas

By James E. Goddard and Patrick Beaton

The process of collecting methane from landfills is gaining momentum throughout the country. The question remains: Who really owns the gas?

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